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Top 10 Beck Songs

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Jim Beviglia. Born July 8, 1970, Beck is a singer-songwriter and musician who rose to fame in the early 1990s thanks to his alternative rock sound with hip hop flavors. Thanks to the song “Loser,” he was able to gain even more success with his 1996 album “Odelay,” and since then, he has continued to experiment with many instruments and styles. For this list, we’ve chosen our entries based on a combination of the artist’s fan favorites and their most commercially successful songs. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Beck songs. Special thanks to our users Miika Soini, Alex E. Frías, jokerman42, and D40oftheSea for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript
Script written by Jim Beviglia.

He’s got a devil’s haircut in his mind. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Beck songs.

For this list, we’ve chosen our entries based on a combination of the artist’s fan favorites and their most commercially successful songs.

#10: “Tropicalia”
Mutations (1998)

One of the trademarks of Beck’s career is his willingness to change styles with each album. And that’s exactly what he did when he followed up the most popular album of his career – 1996’s Odelay – with 1998’s Mutations. With that change of pace, he found room for quirky tracks like this trombone-drenched and Brazilian-inspired excursion. If you find yourself swaying your hips to the rhythm, don’t forget to also take note of “Tropicalia”’s lyrics, which speak of heartbreak amid the humidity.

#9: “Asshole”
One Foot in the Grave (1994)

In addition to being known for his willingness to switch up genres, Beck is also famous for the bold production choices he embraces with his music. But his success is also in large part due to his songwriting skills. This harrowing track showcases both of those skills. Although Beck is singing on this lo-fi offering to the unnamed “you”, the raw hurt on display makes it seem like the One Foot in the Grave track comes from painful personal experience.

#8: “Sexx Laws”
Midnite Vultures (1999)

1999’s Midnite Vultures heard Beck trying on some wild, unhinged funk for size. The album’s first single was an unforgettable smash filled with gleaming horns and downright loony lyrics. While it’s hard to say whether Beck was playing it straight or doing a parody, as the tune features banjo, pedal steel guitar and electronica, there’s no doubt that these “Sexx Laws” could only be obeyed by the truly funky. It was also accompanied by a fairly wacky music video directed by Beck himself.

#7: “E-Pro”
Guero (2005)

This opening track from 2005’s Guero is one of Beck’s hardest-rocking tracks. While the rhythm is sampled from the Beastie Boys’ hit “So What’cha Want,” “E-Pro” is also accompanied by a crunching guitar riff. And never has a Beck song sounded so ominous or intimidating. He sings the confrontational lyrics with insinuated menace, while the wordless chorus sounds like he’s taunting his foes. The alternative rocker also topped the Modern Rock Tracks charts in 2005.

#6: “The New Pollution”
Odelay (1996)

Just based on the psychedelic intro, you know you’re going to get something special from this Odelay song. Once the charging drums and grinding guitar kick in, Beck draws a unique character sketch of a girl who seems as contaminating as she is alluring. Meanwhile, a silky saxophone bridges the lyrical parts. It’s just another element of a heady musical stew that makes “The New Pollution” such an addiction.

#5: “Girl”
Guero (2005)

There might be no other song in the Beck catalog with such a contrast between peppy music and pitch-black lyrics. Most folks not paying attention to the lyrics might hear the video game-like opening and sweet harmonies in the refrain and think they were listening to something benign. Yet the imagery of “Girl”’s lyrics is pretty dark stuff. In the chorus, the narrator sings of snuffing out the life of the title character. But somehow the opposites work to create something special, like only Beck can pull off.

#4: “Lost Cause”
Sea Change (2002)

On his 2002 album Sea Change, Beck dropped all the jokes and dance moves for a somber, delicate depiction of a relationship falling apart. This tender heartbreaker is one of the loveliest tracks on his fifth major label studio effort. The restrained music of “Lost Cause” puts the spotlight on Beck’s lyrics, as he sings about a love that’s no longer worth the struggle. Yet instead of sounding liberated, he sounds utterly dejected by the realization – but that’s what makes the song so moving and unforgettable.

#3: “Devils Haircut”
Odelay (1996)

The arrangement of this Odelay classic nimbly quiets things down now and again. That sets us up for the impact of the grinding main guitar riff when it comes crashing back. The open spaces suddenly interrupted by thunderous music make “Devils Haircut” sound like the soundtrack of some bizarre western. Meanwhile, Beck’s lyrical attack here is full of off-kilter imagery depicting a travel-weary narrator harassed on all sides. At least the screaming finish offers a little bit of catharsis for our hero. With its multiple samples, alternative rock and hip hop flavors, it was also a top 40 single on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.

#2: “Where It’s At”
Odelay (1996)

Beck sings of having “two turntables and a microphone” throughout the first single off Odelay. Yet the innovative production by The Dust Brothers makes it sound like he had just about everything else at his disposal as well. Everything from a lonely electric piano to samples, beats, and alt rock and hip hop elements, as well as funk and lo-fi sounds, come at the listener from every direction while Beck delivers his rollickingly offbeat rhymes. As elusive as it is entertaining, “Where It’s At” earned its status as one of Beck’s signature songs and a top five spot on the Modern Rock Tracks Chart.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Jack-Ass”
Odelay (1996)
- “Beercan”
Mellow Gold (1994)
- “Gamma Ray”
Modern Guilt (2008)
- “Blue Moon”
Morning Phase (2014)
- “Guess I’m Doing Fine”
Sea Change (2002)

#1: “Loser”
Mellow Gold (1994)

This song introduced most of the world to Beck’s singular talent in 1994. And it still holds up as a magnificent example of clever songwriting matched with ambitious production. Co-writer Carl Stephenson helped graft the track’s mix of back-porch acoustic guitar and psychedelic sitar onto the sampled beats. Beck then added his unique rapping to the mix. The chorus of “I’m a loser, baby” was anything but prophetic; “Loser” made the Hot 100 top 10 and Beck’s music has continued to triumph again and again.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite song by Beck? For more musical Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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